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Bridging the way to minority returns

By 1lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer #101, November 22, 2000

Ravno - One by one, bridge-parts are put together by the Spanish engineers at the Ravno bridge site. The activity is hectic, they have loads of work to do before the grand opening ceremony the 30th of November.
Thirty six meters of bridge, connecting roads, and asphalt, still need to go up before important distinguished guests come to celebrate the effort of opening the area to returns of displaced persons and refugees (DPREs). It is an area of historic significance marking one of the places where war broke out between Bosnian Croats and Serbs in 1992. The township of Ravno and the bridge was destroyed. The confrontation line remained along the river until the war ended. Now the rebuilt Ravno bridge can become a symbol of unification.
Rebuilding the bridge is a combined project by SFOR, USAID, and the British government, making it easier for returnees to move back to the village of Ravno, and the agricultural resources in Popovo Polje more accessible.
Australian Maj. Rupert Hoskin, SFOR Engineer staff officer (Bridges), is very exited. He leaves no doubt about this project being a prestigious one for SFOR to participate in.
"This bridge will provide access between Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, re-establish links between the townships of Trebjinje and Ravno, and (Bosnian) Serb and (Bosnian) Croat municipalities", said Hoskin.
He says the international community has put a lot of effort into rebuilding the area.
"The new bridge is completely key to DPRE returns, and economic development in this area. It is also a strong sign of good co-operation between local authorities on both sides of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line."
The majors of Ravno and Trebinje have already signed two memorandums of understanding, agreeing to encourage returnees, and get the agricultural area of Popovo Polje going again.
"This project will only be possible because of the major co-operation between the (ethnic groups) in this area", said Hoskin.
"Yes, it's a great project. Not only an interesting engineering project, but taking into account the political aspect and what this bridge symbolises, it has been a privilege to be involved", he says.
The new bridge is a wide Bailey-Bridge model 36 metre long, which will connect the SFOR routes of Cat and Rabbit. It is the third bridge in the Donor Bridge Program.

Related links:
Engineering - Bridges
Nations of SFOR: Spain